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    'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06


    Lestat Takes a Bite Out of Broadway, Opening April 25
    By Kenneth Jones
    Playbill.com
    25 Apr 2006


    Hugh Panaro in Lestat.
    photo by Paul Kolnik
    The soul-searching vampire Lestat thought 10 years on The Devil's Road was difficult, but now he faces a tougher street: Broadway.

    The new Elton John-Bernie Taupin musical, Lestat, opens April 25, boasting a reunion for the pop songwriters of "Candle in the Wind," and marking the first time they've paired for a theatrical project.
    The property they plunder is the work of gothic novelist Anne Rice, whose "Vampire Chronicles" are best sellers. Linda Woolverton penned the libretto, Robert Jess Roth directed and Matt West handled musical staging. All three are veterans of the Disney smash, Beauty and the Beast, which began at the Palace Theatre, where Lestat is now perched.

    The creative team was augmented by choreographer Jonathan Butterell (The Light in the Piazza, Fiddler on the Roof), who was brought onto the project after the late 2005 tryout in San Francisco. The show has undergone some major surgery since early this year. (A conceit of Lestat typing his memoirs into a laptop, with super titles being shown to the audience, has been abandoned since San Francisco.)
    The curtain went up on Lestat on Broadway March 25. The first preview coincided with Sir Elton John's 59th birthday. John was quoted early in the creative process as saying the score was written in two weeks. There have been changes and additions to the score in recent months.
    Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, making its producing debut on Broadway, brought Butterell onto the project as a little extra insurance that the show would be in shape. (He was not credited in the Playbill in the first week of previews.)
    Here's how the producer bills Lestat: "The romantic and heartbreaking story of the extraordinary journey of one man who escapes the tyranny of his oppressive family only to have his life taken from him. Thrust into the seductive and sensual world of an immortal vampire, Lestat sets out on a road of adventures in a quest for everlasting love and companionship but is forced to reconcile his innate sense of good with his primal need to exist."
    The San Francisco company remains intact for Broadway (with some additions), featuring Hugh Panaro as the title vampire and Carolee Carmello (Mamma Mia!, Parade) as Gabrielle, Drew Sarich as Armand, Jim Stanek as Louis, Roderick Hill as Nicolas, Michael Genet as Marius and Allison Fischer as Claudia. Lestat's cast of 21 features Rachel Coloff, Nikki Renee Daniels, Joseph Dellger, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Sean MacLaughlin, Patrick Mellen, Chris Peluso, Dominque Plaisant, Megan Reinking, Sarah Solie, Amy Sparrow, Will Swenson, Steve Wilson and Tommar Wilson.
    Lestat had its world premiere Dec. 17, 2005-Jan. 29 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.
    Lestat is Elton John's third musical for Broadway following The Lion King and Aida. He also wrote songs for the smash London musical Billy Elliott, which has yet to be announced for a Broadway bow.
    http://www.playbill.com/news/article/99051.html
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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    WOW! I had no idea this was going to be a Broadway play - but a MUSICAL?

    There are 2 of Anne Rice's books that I actually love; Lestat and Interview. Interview, the film, was a disappointment. I'll hold off disposing this one for a bit. I trust Elton a wee bit.

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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    Quote Originally Posted by Not Afraid
    WOW! I had no idea this was going to be a Broadway play - but a MUSICAL?

    There are 2 of Anne Rice's books that I actually love; Lestat and Interview. Interview, the film, was a disappointment. I'll hold off disposing this one for a bit. I trust Elton a wee bit.
    Well Bernie is involved too. My favorite two Rice books too, I have signed copies of Lestat & Queen of the Damned.
    http://www.annerice.com/fa_thlestat.htm
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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    Quote Originally Posted by ALIASd
    Well Bernie is involved too. My favorite two Rice books too, I have signed copies of Lestat & Queen of the Damned.
    http://www.annerice.com/fa_thlestat.htm
    I have a few signed books by her. I even had her sign a copy of Beauty's Release. My Lestat and books after that are first editions but I didn't catch on to Interview until it had been out for a while.

    I sure wish all of her books were as good as these two. I recently reread Lestat before going to Paris and it was still a great read.

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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    I saw this Show in San Francisco in Previews, and Liked it very much. I hope it does well.

    However it has been tweaked and re-done numbers so often, that usually means not good things.

    San Francisco has enjoyed 3 previews in the last few years, Wicked, Lennon, and Lestat. I hope Lestat joins Wicked (Which also recieved poor reviews) and does not go the way of equally high hyped "Lennon," now extinct.
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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    This is from The New York Times a few days ago. Link to the entire article follows the quote:

    "All this might be less daunting if "Lestat" had the crowd-pleasing gimmicks common to virtually all mass-market musicals today. But it has no falling chandelier, whirring helicopter or swinging vines. "We purposefully decided to avoid production theatrics like that," Mr. Maday said. "And now we know we have to deliver on the basic merits."

    That has not proved easy thus far. "Lestat" has gotten some of the worst press in recent memory, including universally awful reviews during a January tryout in San Francisco. Elton John's songs were called "unrelentingly saccharine," "banal" and "virtually undistinguishable," and the show's book cursory and jumbled. While audiences familiar with Ms. Rice's work were most likely prepared for the fact that the story contains no heterosexual love angle, critics complained that even the homoerotic tension had been neutered, leaving little oomph of any kind."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/23/theater/23haas.html

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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    First Review is IN.....not bad, not Great.......

    New York
    Lestat

    Reviewed By: Peter Filichia

    Hugh Panaro and Allison Fischer in Lestat
    (Photo © Paul Kolnik)It's the best damned vampire musical Broadway has seen in years. Granted, that's not saying much for Lestat, considering that Broadway's most recent vampire musicals -- Dance of the Vampires (2002) and Dracula: The Musical (2004) -- were atrocities. But the reports of Lestat's death from West Coast critics and New York preview audiences have been greatly exaggerated. The new musical at the Palace is certainly not a great show, but it's occasionally a good one. Based on the vampire chronicles of Anne Rice, it has music by Elton John, lyrics by Bernie Taupin, and a book by Linda Woolverton.
    There are a few intriguing ideas and ingredients, two wonderful lead performances, and plenty of good supporting turns in Lestat. When we first meet the title character (played by Hugh Panaro) in the early 19th century, he has just slaughtered some pesky wolves and enjoyed doing so more than he'd expected. (Foreshadowing!) He returns home to what many sons have experienced: a father who criticizes, a mother who encourages. Mom is played by Carolee Carmello, who seems as stiff as her starched costume, but there's a reason for this: Her character's ill. "You must live the life I never could," she tells Lestat -- so he's off to visit ol' pal Nicholas, who's working at a theater in Paris.
    Lestat goes home with Nicolas, who's sexually interested in him. Though Lestat does a bit of flirting, he soon says he needs "some air." During his walk, he's attacked by head vampire Magnus. (See? He should have opted for gay sex!) Now Lestat's a vampire, too. That's predictable, but the story improves when he returns home and his mother says "Make me as you are," feeling that the undead existence of a vampire must be better than actual death. This leads to a different kind of Oedipus complex as Lestat becomes a mother-sucker. Savvy audiences would expect this, because a performer of Carmello's stature surely wouldn't agree to die and disappear in Act I. But surprise: She's barely present at all in Act II. In fact, she has more right to sing "What Happened to My Part?" than Sara Ramirez did.
    Mom sees a passer-by, screams with hunger, and pounces on the live bait. Perhaps a healthy laugh here and there was the intention of director Robert Jess Roth and the rest of the creative team -- with or without the input of Elton John, who reportedly doesn't take a hands-on interest in the show he's writing. Whatever the case, humor does crop up in the show; but many theatergoers will laugh in a superior way, assuming the staff was too stupid to notice that certain moments are unintentionally funny.
    Lestat spends his time biting necks and making converts. When Nicholas learns what's up, he decides that he wants to be a vampire, too; but while Lestat's mom loves her new form of existence, Nicolas doesn't. (Apparently, the vampire's bite affects everyone differently.) Lestat wants Marius to return and cure Nicolas, but the Vampire of Vampires doesn't, so Lestat euthanizes his old friend. And, wouldn't you know it, that's just when Marius shows up! (Well, vampires do sleep late.)
    The story takes a few odd turns. Some of the vampires start a theater troupe (no kidding). In a welcoming speech, the playgoers are told that if they are too unnerved by the show within the show, they are free to leave. Is this warning also meant for those in the Palace? Perhaps, for the Vampire Theatre Company presents what can be best described as a choreopoem with dancers in masks cavorting between brightly colored sheets that span the stage horizontally. (Very artsy!) Woolverton's writing is sometimes pedestrian. For example, when Lestat and mom enter a church, he says, "I wonder if we'll be struck down?" But sometimes her work is arresting. When Mom says that she wants to see the world and Lestat discourages her, her rebuttal is that, as a mother, she always accepted the fact that he'd leave her -- so why, she wonders, can't he give her the same consideration?
    Lestat comes to the New World, ostensibly to open an American franchise of vampires, and meets Louis. Anyone given these pages to read would swear he had in hand a scene in which a gay man attempts to seduce a straight one. These two become domestic partners and parents of a girl named Claudia, but they have difficulty dealing with the eternal prepubescent. Poor Lestat! When he came across Claudia, she was a dying consumptive, so he figured he'd "save" her by making her a vampire. This short-term solution becomes a long-term problem.
    Is it too late for Elton John and Bernie Taupin to join the BMI-Lehman Engel workshop? They didn't know that, for the moments when the action of their musical shifts to Paris or New Orleans, they needn't have written songs that list the charms of those cities. Taupin may have eclipsed the Bingo folks as the creator of this season's most seriously misrhymed and misaccented lyrics. John's music comes off better, but what's passable in the theater won't get many spins on a CD player. Still, a song in which Lestat proclaims "The thirst! I feel it coming on!" gets whoops from the audience. (Maybe it could be used in a Pepsi commercial?)
    If Lestat is a flop, no one has told Panaro and Carmello. They throw themselves -- okay, sink their teeth -- into their roles. When each takes center stage and sings, it's galvanizing. Tony nominations for both, please, and maybe one for Allison Fischer as well. Her Claudia is so good, we don't mind that her character's language and demeanor seem far too modern for 1828. Similarly, the anachronism of her country song is ameliorated by her doing it so well.
    Set designer Derek McLane saves the splendor for the second act. Susan Hilferty's costumes are rich and evocative. Kenneth Posner provides a terrific lighting effect where sunlight slowly but surely sneaks across the stage -- and you know what the sun does to vampires. Or do you? Woolverton and Rice give us new information about the life and times of these creatures. Pshaw on crosses and stakes in hearts, and garlic isn't even mentioned. By the way, after 30 years in the show's action have passed, we return to the Vampire Theatre Company and see that it's still going strong. Lestat won't do as well, but if we must have a vampire musical, this one might as well be it.
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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    Most of the big East Coast Newspapers think it is one big snooze fest. This one is from The New York Times.

    April 26, 2006
    THEATER REVIEW
    Anne Rice's Vampires, With Elton John's Music, Take to the Stage

    By BEN BRANTLEY
    A promising new contender has arrived in a crowded pharmaceutical field. Joining the ranks of Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata and other prescription lullaby drugs is "Lestat," the musical sleeping pill that opened last night at the Palace Theater.

    Adapted from Anne Rice's cult novels "The Vampire Chronicles," and featuring songs by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, this portrait of blood suckers in existential crisis gives resounding credence to the legend that vampires are masters of hypnosis. Dare to look upon "Lestat" and keep your eyelids from growing heavier and heavier and heavier.
    Remember when the fiends with the fangs were fun? In the late 1970's Frank Langella had 'em swooning in the aisles as the fatally erotic title character of "Dracula." But recently bat boys have been unable to get much respect from Broadway audiences.

    Somewhere along the way it was decided that vampires were meant to sing and dance, leading to a series of undignified stage portrayals that should have had the Undead Anti-Defamation League up in arms (or wings) long ago.

    "Lestat," the maiden Broadway production of Warner Brothers Theater Ventures, is the third vampire musical to open in the last few years, and it seems unlikely to break the solemn curse that has plagued the genre. Directed by Robert Jess Roth from a book by Linda Woolverton, the show admittedly has higher aspirations and (marginally) higher production values than the kitschy "Dance of the Vampires" (2002) and the leaden "Dracula: The Musical" (2004), both major-league flops.
    Set in France and New Orleans (with a few exotic road trips) in the 18th and 19th centuries, "Lestat" makes a point of sending up the archetypal vampire myth, with a melodramatic play-within-a-play (performed by a ragtag Parisian theater troupe) seemingly inspired by the Bram Stoker novel that introduced Count Dracula.
    The characters in "Lestat," you see, don't do silly things like turn into bats. They are serious, Dostoyevskyan creatures who ponder the nature of good and evil and the torture of human — all right, make that inhuman — solitude.

    Such concerns do not stop them from sounding or looking like the stiff, sub-Heathcliffian figures of period romance novels (even if they don't approach the eye-candy heights of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the Warner Brothers film of Ms. Rice's "Interview With the Vampire"). Hugh Panaro, in the title role, resembles a slimmed-down, foppish Fabio, the onetime top paperback cover model for such fare. And there is plenty of dialogue to match. "Whatever happened out there with the wolves has changed you, Lestat." Or: "I will never find solace! She was my solace! She stood between me and the abyss!"

    Ms. Rice's novels can be similarly hokey. But the prose is steeped in an unwavering, baroque musicality that carries readers along despite themselves. "Lestat," which vacillates feebly between low tragedy and lower camp, has nothing like that self-assurance. The pulpy and mostly interchangeable songs by Sir Elton and Mr. Taupin, one of the most successful top-40 teams of all time ("Your Song," "Rocket Man"), are rarely the requisite purple but instead a synthetic shade of mauve.
    The musical staging by Matt West consists of halfhearted pastiches, which include a vampire mythology number that bizarrely reworks Jerome Robbins's "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet in "The King and I." Derek McLane's sets are surprisingly minimal, with the most arresting effects generated by the light show that occurs anytime a new vampire is created. (The lighting is by Kenneth Posner, with "visual concept design" by Dave McKean.)

    As for the actors, they mostly tend to make you think that vampires are a petulant lot, always complaining in sing-song voices about how lonely they are and what a drag it is to live forever. Theatergoers who want to resist the soporific spell of this whinefest may possibly find amusement (or indignation) in dissecting "Lestat" as an old-fashioned allegory of homosexuality as a life-warping affliction.
    "Lestat" brings to mind a fancy-dress version of "The Boys in the Band," Mart Crowley's landmark play about the miseries of being gay. Here again is a set of expensively attired men who, when they aren't on the prowl for a luscious new conquest, lament the all-consuming urges that have turned them into outcasts.

    Louis (Jim Stanek, who in his 19th-century wig looks like the writer Fran Lebowitz), Lestat's New Orleans housemate, sings:
    I don't think I can take another night
    Of these instincts that I fight
    This overwhelming dread
    Of feeling damned inside.
    And the evil Parisian vampire Armand, played by Drew Sarich as a sustained hissy fit, is a first cousin to Harold, the most viperish and self-loathing of the characters in Mr. Crowley's play.
    And consider Lestat's relationships with his disapproving father (hates him) and his doting mother (loves, loves, loves her). He so adores his mom, a marquise (played by the ever-game power balladeer Carolee Carmello), that he makes her a vampire too, giving her a chance to dress up like one of the boys, join the hunt and become the undead's answer to Auntie Mame.

    At least the leading female vampires are livelier than their male counterparts. The closest "Lestat" comes to so-bad-it's-good camp is in a subplot that might be called "Claudia Has Two Daddies." Claudia is the little orphan girl brought home as a peace offering to the sulking Louis by Lestat, who turns her into a vampire after finding her destitute on the streets of New Orleans.

    As portrayed by Allison Fischer, Claudia is a high-decibel version of Patty McCormack in "The Bad Seed," all sweetness, light and lethal bite. She provides the show's high-low point when she throws a musical temper tantrum after being reprimanded for killing her tutor. In a voice to bring down the walls of Jericho, she sings:

    Look at you, you disapprove
    Like two fussy mothers.
    Who are you to criticize
    The habits of another?

    The song's title, repeated imperiously throughout the lyrics, is "I Want More." So do we, little Claudia. But this show isn't the place to find it.

    And...the New York Post also thinks this show is in need of a stake through the heart:

    http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/65062.htm
    Last edited by desertdweller; 04-26-2006 at 04:58 PM.

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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    what is this play about?????

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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    Quote Originally Posted by kelly
    what is this play about?????
    I hope you're being sarcastic.

    I've read every single one of the Vampire Chronicles (the last one was HIGHLY disappointing... had to force myself to get through it). The movies made (Interview & Queen of the Damned) were kind of suck-fests (pun not intended). Not sure how I feel about a musical.

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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    I'm kinda dissapointed that the news from this show hasn't been more promising. That being said, at least the articles and reviews have been entertaining! I liked this one: http://news.yahoo.com/s/eo/20060427/en_celeb_eo/18898

    The opening line had me cracking up before I even got to the funnier bits.
    "Bela Legosi made them classic, Gary Oldman made them tragic and Buffy made them downright chic. But Elton John and Anne Rice may have set vampires back a thousand years."

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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    Elton John and Bernie Taupin's Lestat to Close on Broadway May 28
    By Robert Simonson
    Playbill
    23 May 2006


    Hugh Panaro in Lestat.
    photo by Joan Marcus
    The Devil's Road has come to an end. The new Elton John-Bernie Taupin musical, Lestat, will close on May 28, a mere month after it opened at the Palace Theatre on April 25.

    It will have played 33 preview and 39 regular performances.
    The musical about the soul-searching vampire Lestat opened to some of the most blistering reviews of the season. It collected only two Tony Award nominations, for actress Carolee Carmello and costume designer Susan Hilferty.
    The show was based on the work of gothic novelist Anne Rice, whose "Vampire Chronicles" are best sellers. Linda Woolverton penned the libretto, Robert Jess Roth directed and Matt West handled musical staging. All three are veterans of the Disney smash, Beauty and the Beast, which began at the Palace Theatre, where Lestat is now perched.
    The creative team was augmented by choreographer Jonathan Butterell (The Light in the Piazza, Fiddler on the Roof), who was brought onto the project after the late 2005 tryout in San Francisco. The show underwent some major surgery following the troubled tryout.
    The curtain went up on Lestat on Broadway March 25. The first preview coincided with Sir Elton John's 59th birthday.
    The San Francisco company remained intact for Broadway (with some additions), featuring Hugh Panaro as the title vampire and Carolee Carmello (Mamma Mia!, Parade) as Gabrielle, Drew Sarich as Armand, Jim Stanek as Louis, Roderick Hill as Nicolas, Michael Genet as Marius and Allison Fischer as Claudia. Lestat's cast of 21 features Rachel Coloff, Nikki Renee Daniels, Joseph Dellger, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Sean MacLaughlin, Patrick Mellen, Chris Peluso, Dominque Plaisant, Megan Reinking, Sarah Solie, Amy Sparrow, Will Swenson, Steve Wilson and Tommar Wilson.
    Lestat had its world premiere Dec. 17, 2005-Jan. 29 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.
    Lestat is Elton John's third musical for Broadway following The Lion King and Aida. He also wrote songs for the smash London musical Billy Elliott, which has yet to be announced for a Broadway bow.
    http://www.playbill.com/news/article/99868.html
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    Re: 'Lestat' on Broadway, opens April 25 - Playbill.com 4/24/06

    The final performance of "Lestat" is this Sunday.

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